“The privilege of being a writer is that you have this opportunity to slow down and to consider things.”—Chris Abani
Abani, who is celebrating his 50th birthday today, is an award-winning Nigerian and U.S. author of 4 novels, numerous novellas, short stories and plays, and 7 books of poetry. He started writing young and was so good at skewering those in power that he was imprisoned 3 times by the Nigerian government. The first time came after his first novel– Masters of the Board – came out at age 16. His second novel, Sirocco, published shortly after his release, got him right back in jail where he continued writing and produced a number of anti-government plays. Their production got him sentenced to death, but he escaped to England where he continued his education and writing after being awarded a PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, the literary world’s response to those injustices.
In the past 15 years he has won nearly three dozen major awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a California Book Award, given while he served as a Professor of Creative Writing at UC-Riverside. Today he holds the prestigious Board of Trustees Professor of English Chair at Northwestern University.
He is an avid supporter of the World Wide Web as writing and publishing resource, and selections of his poetry have often appeared in the online journal Blackbird. “Like most writers, I find the Web is a wonderful distraction,” he said. “Who doesn't need that last minute research before writing?”
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